Amid spike in Covid-19 cases, Bengal’s testing matches up to national level
Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases, the state recorded 1,685 new cases in the past seven days, taking the tally to 5,501 coronavirus cases since March 17, Bengal’s testing parameters have improved and the state is finally catching up with the national average and some other major states.
Criticised for being one of the worst-performing states in terms of testing, West Bengal tested about 2,000 samples per day in the first week of May and the testing per million population stood at only 279 on May 4. Bengal has been testing more than 9,000 samples per day over the past few days. This has finally brought Bengal close to some other major states. Tamil Nadu tested 12,807 samples on May 31, while Maharashtra said on May 24 that they were testing between 10,000 and 14,000 samples per day.
Its testing per million population has also risen to 2,264, as on May 31. The national average has been around 2,500 tests per million over the past week.
There has also been significant improvement in the positive confirmation rate – number of persons testing positive for 100 tests – from 4.87% on May 5 to 2.7% on May 31. This is better than the national average of 3.56%.
“The testing per day will further increase and go beyond 10,000 samples per day soon. We are not stepping up the speed for a few days because of backlog in reports from laboratories,” said a senior health department official.
However, being India’s fourth most-populous state, even 9,000 tests per day keeps the state behind some other states in tests per million population. For example, Maharashtra’s testing per million stood at 3,349 as of May 30, and Karnataka’s at 4,124 per million, while Delhi has been testing 9,689 samples per million. Gujarat conducted 2,790 tests per million, as on May 26.
According to Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, who has been one of the key people in chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Covid-19 management team, “Our policy is to test, identify, and isolate. Testing has improved significantly and will increase further.”
Bengal on May 31, reported 371 new Covid-19 cases, mostly from the different districts where migrant workers recently returned.
Public health expert Rezaul Karim, too, lauded the state government’s role in increasing testing. “It feels very good to see that the state has made such a significant improvement in a short time,” Karim said.